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"Starsky & Hutch" - Movie Review

  • Annabelle Robertson Entertainment Critic
  • Updated Aug 03, 2007
"Starsky & Hutch" - Movie Review

Release Date:  March 5, 2004

Rating:  PG-13 (for drug content, sexual situations, partial nudity, language and some violence)

Genre:  Action/Comedy/Crime

Director:  Todd Phillips

Actors:  Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Juliette Lewis, Snoop Dogg, Amy Smart, Carmen Electra, Jason Bateman, Will Ferrell, Patton Oswalt

Review:  I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a little sick of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. What is it with these guys?  They’re like Captain and Tennille singing a non-stop version of “Love Will Keep Us Together.” And let’s face it, unlike those two, it’s not like Stiller and Wilson’s lyrics were written by Neil Sedaka. They’re comics, pretending to be actors – and doing the same schtick over and over.

Somebody please put me out of my misery, because they each have more films coming out this year – several of 'em. Apparently the Carpenters were right. It’s only just begun.

If you’re thinking that this movie will take you back a few years, you’re correct. You can cringe with the rest of us at the clothes, the décor and the disco – all to the beat of some pretty fun music – and well done by Edward Verreaux and Theodore Shapiro. Okay, so I’m showing my age, but I enjoyed that part. Most people under 35 probably won’t get this film, though. And frankly, with its overt sexuality and drugs, I’m thinking that should be the cutoff age, anyway.

Get my drift?


 • = Mild  •• = Average 

••• = Heavy  •••• = Extreme

Adult Themes: 


Drugs/Alcohol Content:




 Sexual Content/Nudity: 




It’s definitely not the original “Starsky and Hutch,” the cop show about two very different police officers who fought crime in the fictitious “Bay City” from 1975 to 1979. Instead of attempting the next-to-impossible task of recreating that drama, writer/director Todd Phillips chose to make a parody – which was a smart move. And the comedy isn’t bad, from a creative standpoint, when it isn’t degenerating. Sure, the direction and camera work are sloppy, but I get the feeling that this is all part of the joke. The film makes fun of not only the buddy cop genre, but also the oh-so-fake directorial input that was so common back then. And that is one of the funniest things it does.

The plot, which is formulaic, has Starsky & Hutch chasing after a drug dealer with a penchant for murder. They track down a guy who’s in jail (Will Ferrell, in a twisted homosexual scene that ends with two bare-chested guys humping each other), basically make fools of themselves and yet still catch the bad guys. Meanwhile, they cruise around in Starsky’s tomato-red Ford Grand Torino (the one and only) and pick up girls.

Wilson plays the same surfer-dude-with-a-recreational-drug-habit that he serves up in every single movie. Never mind the fact that his character is a cop this time; Hutch is the biggest crook on the planet. He’s also a sex addict (“I’ll take anything”) who enjoys a threesome with two willing cheerleaders (“Why don’t you two kiss each other now?”) played by Amy Smart and Carmen Electra – not surprising given Electra’s appearance (her second) in Playboy last year. She’s a beauty, but maybe somebody should tell her that at 32, she might be just a little bit past the cheerleading stage, mmmh?

Once again, we get to watch Stiller play the nerd who doesn’t know he’s one. Starsky goes by the rules and believes in honesty and hard work – much to the amusement of all the other cops on the force. Of course, we’re made to believe that only by being dishonest can cops really succeed. Another great message for kids.

Vince Vaughan, who plays the bad guy, seems to have wandered onto the set from some crime drama, where his vicious villain might have been somewhat coherent with the story – not the case here. Jason Bateman, as his sidekick, sleepwalks through his lines, and Juliette Lewis shows us why she has never become an A-list actress.

The saving grace, when it comes to acting in this film, is Snoop Dogg, who plays the drug-dealing informant, Huggy Bear. I’m still picking myself up off the floor, but this guy can really act. In fact, he saved the film.

Will it make you laugh? Yep. You can’t help but shake your head at what passed for normal, and the over-the-top parody that Stiller and Wilson ultimately pull off isn’t bad. It’s mostly ad-lib, of course, and not from the script – but it works.

The funniest scene of all is at the disco, where Starsky, who is high on cocaine without realizing it, takes on the local disco king (yeah, I know – he did this scene in “Along Came Polly” – I told you this wasn’t original stuff). Make sure to look around at the costumes, which will truly make you feel like you’ve turned back the clock.

Unfortunately, despite the laughs, there are just too many scenes (including one with a “witness” cheerleader who completely undresses while Starsky and Hutch interrogate her) where a depraved mind is assumed for enjoying this film. It’s as if Phillips really thinks that threesomes, casual sex and forcing men to emulate homosexuals – for the sexual pleasure of a convict – are hilarious. 

It’s such a shame that this is where creativity ends nowadays in Hollywood, and the film was creative. Personally, I think it was also pretty gross. But, I guess that’s the way (un-huh, un-huh), they like it – out there, anyway.